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A Naval Sham Fight

Torpedo experiments and exhibitions are common eu <ugh at Portsmouth, but the scone which was witnessed on Oct. 16 off Port Monokton was, both on account of the operations attempted and the extent of the preparations which had been made, unprecedented. The idea was that an enemy’s fleet lying outside the Needles, and intent on the capture of Portsmouth Dockyard, had sent on an advance party to clear the channel of all obstacles in the shape of torpedoes, submarine mines, booms, Ac. This party was supposed to have succeeded in discovering mines extending to a distance of 120 yards, but upon approaching Fort Monckton the party found that a boom barred their fu; thcr progress, the‘Solent was alive with torpedoes and sunken mines, and that the party were also exposed to the guns of the fort and from field artillery. The efforts made to force a passage through these obstacles constituted the grand attack. The attacking party consisted of the Bloodhound, gunboat, the Vesuvius, torpedo vessel, and six second-clans tor pedo launches. These were maimed by detachments from the ships in harbor, Four launches manned by men from the Duke of Wellington flag-ship, and Uie Asia receiving ship, acted as guard. The defending force consisted of the D battery of the 4t'i brigade of the R ‘y.d Artillery and one company of 1)0 ank and file,, with a due proportion of oifi ors and men from the Ist b. ttn oa of tin; 2-4th Regiment, and another from the Royd Marine Light j -fantry, B.'-h man was m p bod with fif en rounds Q ; '“la ik ammiui:.i >n. The guns 'minted a the f"rt and t.o ; 6 of the Pie’d V-fltvy nu nb re I ; X nin ajk Aco 11 a l ■ of Rural Eng.oeo.s 3 i») charge of o\y-» powerful elect ic lights one of wiiich vas placed >n Ifie parapet :«t the west end of the Tort .aud the other at the e Ist end. The objcft o’ them was .of course to disco )■ (I V! inp eme its ->t 6 10 • ny. t.'oloncl - 6 .v, com.-nan-. in , I 0 Roy d B ig'-ncers ac-iosport, was in chi ad I comm uid of the line of defence. Captain Ramsey, f.l. E , was in charge of the torpedo defence, and Major Keogh, of the 2nd Bat'aVon of the 12th Regiment, was I in (Ipivge of the infantry detachment. For the success of the operation secrecy, it will be obvious, was essential- Tpe mimic warfare tljd not therefore commerce until long after nightfall; ivne o’clock, indeed, had passed before the firing of a rocket and a volley of musketry announced the advance of the enemy, and the electric light was projected from both bastions of the fpjt. T !ie borijsQu having Veen searched the enemy was discovered, and when found was fired on by the artillery, and a small era ft coming in shove to destroy the connections by the rifles. The Bloodhound and the Vesuvius endeavored to drop a double line of countermines among the mines of the defenders, the effect of which would be to render those mines inoperative, bub the Bloodhound was signalled out of action before she acc implished her work. The Vesuvius was more successful, but whether her countermines fell in the spots desired cannot be determined until dhers are sent down, for unless they fell in a radius of thirty feet, representing a channel of sixty feet, the effect would be irl. The whole of the launches were placed hors do combat, and at the close of an hour's fight the v cfcory was with the defenders.

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A Naval Sham Fight Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 39, 25 December 1879

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